I won’t lie; first impressions of Montenegro were not good. It was bucketing down when taxiing to the terminal of Podgorica Airport. I almost didn’t want to subject myself to it. It was early. It was glum. It was cold & I was tired, a consequence of having spent the previous night trying – and failing miserably – to sleep in London’s Stansted Airport, the only way I deduced that I’d guarantee making the 06:55 Ryanair departure to the Montenegrin capital, one of the few direct flights from my corner of Europe to this corner of Europe at this time of the year. I had limited time in Montenegro so I was hoping the conditions would improve, and fast; with the scenery on show in these parts you really need good weather to do the country justice. The weather did improve – on and off – and I found myself leaving Montenegro some days later for neighbouring Kosovo wondering why it had taken me so long to point my camera at this particular Balkan gem.
Region – Southeastern Europe/The Balkans (dMb tag: The Balkans). Capital – Podgorica. Population – 680,000. Official Language – Montenegrin. Currency – €uro. GDP (nominal) per capita – US$6,630 (80th). Political System – Parliamentary republic. EU Member? – No (as of April 2017). UN Member? – Yes (admitted June 2006). G20 Member? – No. Size – 14,000 km² (Europe’s 10th smallest country, slightly larger than the US state of Connecticut, or about two-thirds the size of Wales). Topography – Varied. Mostly mountainous interior with a narrow coastal plain. Formation/Independence – 2006 (following the peaceful dissolution of the former State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, itself formed in 1992 following the breakup of Yugoslavia). UNESCO World Heritage sites – 4. Tourism Catchphrase/Slogans – Breathtaking Beauty; Wild Beauty. Famous For – Being Europe’s baby, its newest country; historic walled old towns, scenery; the azure Adriatic; partying. Highlights – The Bay of Kotor; the Adriatic coast; Durmitor National Park. Montenegro Titbits – Officially Crna Gora, Montenegro is the country’s better-know Italian name (which translates into English as ‘Black Mountain’); the country’s 294-kilometer-long azure Adriatic coastline boasts 117 beaches. Montenegro Observations – The roads are tight; as in most of the Balkans, unfinished construction projects are everywhere & blight the otherwise stunning landscape; most essentials – coffee, beer, meals out, a hostel bed, parking – are very economical, petrol not so much; everyone seems to smoke everywhere including in cafes & restaurants; the locals are, for the most part, very welcoming & friendly; you’re never far from a church or monastery (or from anything in tiny Montenegro); coffee is served with a straw. You don’t have to use it of course but it’s a somewhat bizarre accompaniment to an espresso.
Visits – 1 (April 2017). Where I went/What I saw – The Bay of Kotor (Perast, Kotor & Porto Montenegro); Lovcen National Park & the Njegos Mausoleum; Budva & The Budva Riviera (Sveti Stefan)); Lake Skadar National Park & Podgorica.
The fun side of travel. I’m 6 hours into an 8-hour wait for an overnight, cross-border bus to Pristina, Kosovo, a strange city I’ll arrive into at stupid o’clock in the morning (5 a.m. all going to plan). I’m in a smoky café (the Montenegrins could do with sorting that disgusting societal detail out in a hurry) in Podgorica, a European capital I’d say the majority of people have never heard of before. I’m tired, I’m cold (it shouldn’t be this chilly here this time of year) & I’d love a shower (and access to the hire car that I returned earlier today). This is the fun side of travel. At least I have coffee & awesome travel photography from the last three days in Montenegro, including today in Podgorica, to help pass the time.
Signing Off | The Complete Podgorica Gallery
Monument to King Nikola (the last King of Montenegro, he was sovereign prince from 1860 and King from 1910 to 1918. After the WWI Montenegro was annexed to Serbia and King Nikola went into exile to France in 1918, dying in Antibes 1921. His statue is in Niksic opposite the Parliament Building). Podgorica, Montenegro. April 21, 2017.
Central Square, Podgorica, Montenegro
Overlooking Trg Republike (Independence Square, formerly Republic Square or Square of the Republic) in Podgorica, Montenegro. April 21, 2017.
Old Ribnica River Bridge Podgorica Montenegro
Stari Most na Ribnici (Old Ribnica River Bridge) in Podgorica, Montenegro. April 21, 2017.
Moraca River, Podgorica Montenegro
The cable-stayed Moskovski Most (Millennium Bridge) over the Moraca River in Podgorica, Montenegro. April 21, 2017.